Oxfam: Forced Marriages Aren't Going Away in South Sudan
Wednesday 20/February/2019 - 09:35 AM
South Sudanese Girls
A new report by British charity Oxfam warns that another generation of girls in South Sudan will miss out on education، face high health risks during childbirth، and be more likely to face sexual and domestic violence unless the country takes more steps to eliminate forced marriages، voice of america reported.
The report، Born to Be Married، states that South Sudan is one of the most difficult places in the world for girls to receive an education. Most girls drop out of school due in part to forced marriage at young ages.
Ranjan Poudyal، Oxfam's country director for South Sudan، said the group found that more than 70 percent of girls in Nyal are married before the age of 18.
"Men، boys and girls spoke of how child marriage can have devastating consequences for young girls. We know that 76 percent of South Sudanese girls are out of school. And child marriage contributes a lot to the fact that they are not in school،" Poudyal told VOA's "South Sudan in Focus."
Oxfam says it carried out its research in the town of Nyal، in former Unity state، over a four-year period.
Poudyal said hunger and poverty، caused in part by the country's civil war، have driven families to desperation. Many parents will marry off their young daughters for a dowry.
Juba parent Esther Atim said the economic crisis caused by the war has put a terrible strain on families، especially children.
"The girl child doesn't want to see her mum suffering. She finds a way she thinks is OK [to help her mother]. For example، she goes to town and gets money through commercial sex and then she gives the money to the mum to buy food. In the process، she gets pregnant and her future is ruined. Some parents also agree with somebody to marry their daughters so that they have money to survive،" Atim told VOA.
Atim urged government officials to strengthen existing laws aimed at ending child and forced marriages and to invest in girls' education. The report noted that in 2012، the government finalized a "gender policy" that called for new laws to address sexual and gender-based violence، "and establishing 'safe centers' for psychosocial support." The report، however، said such frameworks remain largely unimplemented.